Live in a News Desert? Join the Banyan Project!

The decline of newspapers has created countless underserved “news deserts” in need of coverage. Through a cooperative model, the Banyan Project aims to help.
By Staff, Utne Reader
March/April 2013
Add to My MSN

The Banyan Project, a planned network of news co-ops, aims to make newsrooms less dependent on dwindling ad revenue and bureaucratic conglomerates.
Photo By Walter Watzpatzkowski


Content Tools

Related Content

When Newspapers Die, Where Do We Bring the Flowers?

There’s one thing about this whole death of newspapers thing that troubles me: where do you go to mo...

The Vintage Newsroom: Typewriters, Teletype Machines, and Glue Fumes

It's humbling to peer backwards into history at the process of producing a newspaper or magazine in ...

Don’t Want A Newspaper? Buy One Anyway

For less than the price of a cup of coffee per day, you can feed and clothe a newspaper professional...

Postcards from a Shrinking Newsroom

Martin Gee's photographs of the San Jose Mercury News office document a fluorescently lit ghost town...

The weird thing about the slow death of American newspapers is that, contrary to popular assumption, their audience isn’t shrinking. In fact, depending on how you measure it, readership has actually grown since 2000, says Dean Starkman at Columbia Journalism Review (October 18, 2012). If you count even a small fraction of users who read a newspaper online—say, a core 10 or 20 percent who visit a site like ChicagoTribune.com once or more a day—circulation goes back to 1990s levels (or higher).

The danger is that, despite high demand, communities will be underserved by outlets that can’t survive in an online culture. But there are alternatives, says Michael Johnson at Shareable (December 4, 2012). One of the most interesting is the Banyan Project, a planned network of news co-ops that aims to make newsrooms less dependent on dwindling ad revenue and bureaucratic conglomerates.

Like other co-ops, the Banyan model posits that, left to their own devices, for-profits simply won’t support core social goods if the price isn’t right. That’s where communities come in. Spreading cost and risk could help newsrooms navigate an uncertain future, while also bringing critical coverage to places that most need it through democratic member-reader control. Already well-established in places like Germany and Mexico, if it catches on here, the co-op model could bring the news back to the communities that need it most.








Post a comment below.

 

TomStites
8/25/2014 7:36:41 AM
To learn more about the Banyan Project, check out www.BanyanProject.coop. And to read my Nieman Journalism Lab essay on news deserts, see http://www.niemanlab.org/2011/12/tom-stites-layoffs-and-cutbacks-lead-to-a-new-world-of-news-deserts/








Pay Now & Save $5!
First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $31.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!